The last thirty years have been defined by one of the most pervasive pandemics ever to thwart humanity―AIDS, a disease that still affects over 34 million people on earth―over four times the population of New York City. This memorial celebrates the hope of the millions who are currently living with AIDS, and those who continue efforts to prevent and fight against the disease, reminding us that the struggle is not over.

Looking down at the deck of the new AIDS memorial park, you can see these 34 million people, each a small impression on the continuous pavement, spanning across the entire site. Visitors will realize that each of these tiny impressions is a life―a living person – with his or her own story of hope. As the local community uses this park for lunch, meetings and recreation, they sit amongst the millions of those living with AIDS, who are trying to maintain a normal life, without stigma.

Raining down upon the visitors is specular light, filtered through a thin sheet of clean shimmering water, a necessary, but too often unavailable, resource in the fight against AIDS . As the seasons turn, the color of light changes―from red leaves of autumn, to the icy frost of winter―but the light and water remain. They provide solace, respite and hope for all who visit.

Holding up this plane of water is a series of three large glass tubes―one each for a decade of fighting AIDS. They are meant to pay tribute to all who have given their lives in this battle, with or without the disease―scientists, scholars, activists and friends. Inside the tubes, twisting vines and flowers speak to the perseverance of the human spirit, and groves of trees signify the continued growth of the effort. The tubes lead visitors below ground to the new AIDS Awareness Center where the complete story of the pandemic can be understood and the stories of those affected can be told.

Passersby, neighbors, visitors, mourners, patients and survivors all collect at the park. To learn, to meet, to relax. All in the light of hope.

Client: AIDS Memorial Park Coalition

Program: Cultural, Pavilion, Plaza

Status: Complete

Size: 21,600 SF

Location: New York, NY

Architect: KM,A (Kyle May) and Sean Burkholder

Images: Kyle May, Sean Burkholder